The firefighters, who battled to extinguish Wednesday's Tianjin fire, were well aware of the danger they were walking into, a farewell message left by one of them reveals.
"I am on my way to Tanggu, If I don't make it back, treat my father as your own," says the final message left by a firefighter to his friend. [Photos of the Tianjin Blasts]
Following the first explosion in the warehouse in the Binhai New Area, dozens of local firefighters rushed to the scene. The first explosion was followed by a series of two equally powerful blasts that destroyed at least seven fire engines.
A firefighter told News.ifeng.com: "19 of my colleagues went in right before it exploded."
The blasts, that ripped through an industrial area used for storing chemically hazardous material, in the northeast Chinese port city of Tianjin, killed at least 44 people, including at least 12 firefighters.
The Beijing News reported that at least 36 firefighters were still missing.
A 25-year old firefighter, newly married firefighter, Yin Yanrong was also among the dead. Yanrong got married 12 days back and according to Shanghaiist, his wife is pregnant with the couple's first baby.
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The explosion produced an impact an equivalent to 23-tonne TNT. It is being reported that 520 people were injured. The condition of at least 60 of the injured is said to be critical, according to Tianjin officials.
The blast that sent shock waves through apartment blocks within 10 km radius, is claimed to have produced tremors equivalent to a 2.6 Richter scale earthquake. Dozens of videos and CCTV footage clips show fireballs shooting into the sky.
Tianjin Blast Videos